Food Allergies in Children
The Children's Mercy Food Allergy Center, a national Center of Excellence as designated by Food Allergy and Research Education (FARE), is dedicated to advancing research and elevating the quality of care for kids with complex food allergy disorders.
What causes food allergies
As many as 1 in 12 children are affected by food allergies, a number which continues to increase. While some kids outgrow food allergies, others deal with lifelong allergies. In general, children with food allergies have extra-sensitive immune systems that react to harmless substances called allergens in certain foods and drinks. When the person eats a peanut or other allergic item, the body produces antibodies to the specific allergen, leading to an immune reaction.
Testing and your appointment
Diagnosing food allergies begins with looking for consistent, reproducible symptoms after consuming a small amount of a particular food. If symptoms improve after eliminating the food from the diet and reoccur with reintroduction, an allergy is likely. Skin or blood testing may be the next step. However, since these methods can produce false positives, oral food challenges, a process where the suspected food is ingested by the patient while being closely monitored by a trained specialist, remain the gold standard for confirming a food allergy.
Before your appointment, please remember:
The typical first appointment lasts 1-2 hours.
If your child takes an antihistamine, have them stop seven days before their appointment.
Bring any previous lab work.
Treating food allergies in children
The primary treatment for food allergy is avoidance of the allergen. Patients and families are educated on how to read labels and trained how to use epinephrine autoinjectors for severe reactions.
Since some food allergies are outgrown (e.g. milk, egg, soy, wheat), periodic re-challenges are part of ongoing follow-up evaluations to monitor tolerance. In instances where food allergy is thought to be lifelong (e.g. peanut, fish), individuals should continue to avoid the food.